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What's the Average Lead Time on Electric Motor Repairs?

07/08/2021

2020-05-confused maintainence managerWhat's the average lead time on electric motor repairs?

That question comes up often and can be difficult to answer. The lead time for a motor repair depends on several factors. If you want a repair that increases the reliability of your motor, it’s almost impossible to provide an accurate lead time estimate before knowing what actually is wrong with it!

Short Lead Times. Don't be Fool!

Short lead times for motor repair are attractive at first glance. You are losing money for every minute you don’t have a motor running. Even if you have a spare it still takes time to pull it, prep it, and install it. Getting a motor back in a couple of weeks as opposed to a month seems like a great idea.

A short average repair time isn’t always the best option. 

A short lead-time should throw up a red flag if you’re interested in long-term reliability and performance. That estimate is likely based on what failed instead of why it failed -- and that can make a tremendous difference for the reliability of your motor.

Root Cause of Failure

Performing a quick repair that addresses the symptoms is different from troubleshooting until you find the root cause. 

For example, suppose an anti-friction bearing has failed prematurely. But what caused that bearing to fail? There are quite a few reasons why bearings fail, such as lubrication problems, misalignment, corrosion, or overloading.

Quick Repair

A motor repair shop that promises a short lead time on repairs can replace the bearing and return your motor quickly (assuming they have the correct bearing in stock). They focus on replacing the bearing and they fail to notice what's wrong with the old bearing. A closer look would reveal that the lubricant in the old bearing is contaminated with particulate matter. When the bearing goes out a few months later, they replace it again. But you keep needing the same repair over and over. And each time you have to deal with costly downtime and repair costs.

Addressing the Root Cause

Another repair vendor is reluctant to promise a certain lead time. They do state that they’ll get it back to you as quickly as they can. And the repair does take longer.

But you’re notified that the repair shop was able to find found out why that bearing failed prematurely: the lubricant is contaminated. They work with you to find out where the contamination is coming from and how to prevent it from happening again.

The motor is actually more reliable because the repair vendor not only replaced the bearing but also addressed the root cause of failure. This time the repair doesn't have to be repeated in a few months and you save on downtime and repair costs.

Motor Repair Lead Time

So how quickly should you be able to get your motor back? Days, weeks, months? Well, the first factor is whether the motor repair vendor is focusing on what went wrong or on WHY it went wrong. It will likely take longer to track down the root cause. But the result is going to be a more reliable motor, less downtime, and lower repair costs.

There are other factors affecting motor repair lead time that you should be aware of.

The motor inspection process includes both electrical and mechanical aspects. A thorough inspection takes time. And keep in mind that electrical measurements, physical measurements, and visual inspection are also needed. This data is necessary for assessing the condition of the motor and highlighting problematic areas that could be the source of problems. 

Furthermore, the type of repair required is going to be a major factor for how long it takes to get your motor back. For example, a motor that has to go through the varnish of vacuum pressure impregnation process will take longer to repair. Both of those processes involve curing cycles during which the motor simply cannot be worked on, and the only way to save time is to do a sloppy job.

The size of the motor is another factor, with larger motors taking more time. Wet or extremely dirty motors also add to the repair lead time because a wet or grounded stator has to be cleaned and baked out before it can have the winding integrity tested.

Conclusion

Here at HECO, we'd love to be able to tell you exactly how long it's going to take to fix an electric motor, but one size doesn't fit all when it comes to motor repair. What we can tell you is that we'll track down why your motor failed and do our best to keep it from happening again.

Author: Samantha Lane at slane@hecoinc.com  or 269-217-3177

Want to learn lots about your motor's & powertrain's reliability?  Attend HECO's valuable RPM Symposium coming to Kalamazoo's famous Air Museum September 14-16, 2021.  Click below for more information. 

Attend HECO's 2021 RPM Symposium in Kalamazoo

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